Posts Tagged PMC Wagner

Industry Talk: Offense Industry In Syria?


The deal is distinct from the common practice of oil majors and other corporations outsourcing security in hot spots in the Middle East and elsewhere. Under the contract, the wells are not just to be guarded, but to be captured first, the article said.

“The arrangement returns to the times of Francis Drake and Cecil Rhodes,” it noted, referring to two figures from British history whose careers mixed warfare and private profit.-NYT

A couple years back, I came up with a concept that more accurately described the type of contracts PMSC’s were conducting in the war. Current contracts are more or less classified as ‘Defense Industry’, where companies profit from the defense of a client and their property. This kind of contract is more favorable because it is not geared towards destroying the enemy. You actually want the enemy to stick around so you don’t work yourself out of a job. lol

The second type of scheme is ‘Offense Industry’. Basically we are talking about contracts where a company profits from the destruction of a client’s enemy and their property. If XYZ company destroys ISIS, then they are payed 50 billion dollars for example. In my post about it, I brought up past examples of offense industry–like privateering.

Fast forward to today’s news coming out of Syria. According to the news site Fontanka, there is an offense industry contract that has been arranged between Syria and several Russian PMSC’s. Here is the quote from the NYT’s article on it:

So far, two Russian companies are known to have received contracts under the new policy, according to the reports: Evro Polis, which is set to receive profits from oil and gas wells it seizes from the Islamic State using contract soldiers, and Stroytransgaz, which signed a phosphate-mining deal for a site that was under militant control at the time.
The agreements, made with the Syrian government, are seen as incentives for companies affiliated with Russian security contractors, who reportedly employ about 2,500 soldiers in the country, to push the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, out of territory near Palmyra, in central Syria.
Most Middle Eastern wars are suspected of having some variant of this deal, but it is seldom made as explicit as in the Russian contracts.
“It’s all very simple,” Ivan P. Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trends Studies, said by telephone of the deals, struck in December but just recently reported. “If a company provides security, then the country getting that service should pay. It doesn’t matter how the payment is made.”
In the petroleum deal, Evro Polis, a corporation formed last summer, will receive a 25 percent share of oil and natural gas produced on territory it captures from the Islamic State, the news site Fontanka.ru reported.

This contract is not just about defending a client’s asset. This first requires these companies to conduct offensive operations and seize this territory, and then defend it! That is a big difference and greatly adds to the risk of these types of contracts. But there is a big reward if they can take it.

It is that reward mechanism that creates an incentive for an investor to put so much into something like this. It is why investors put so much money into privateering vessels during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 in the US–they were ‘incentivized’. But they also had a legal contract with the backing of the US Constitution and congress in the form of a Letter of Marque. I have not seen such legal protections talked about in this article by the NYT or Fontanka. Although I have to imagine the backroom dealings on this would be pretty comprehensive.

A final thought on this is that I held back on putting this story up at first. I do not have the resources to go to Syria and confirm all of this. So these forces might be legitimate Russian PMSC’s, or they might be just Russian special operations dressed up to be PMSC’s (little green men anyone?). I have written about PMC Wagner in the past, as well as the Slovanic Corps and the story always seems to be a little different that what was reported. There are a lot of groups out there pushing agendas and trying to trade up the chain as they say. So are we seeing the beginnings of new offense industry in Syria? We will see where this goes…. –Matt

 

Russian EOD personnel in Palmyra, Syria. -NBC

Russia Deploys a Potent Weapon in Syria: The Profit Motive
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
JULY 5, 2017
The Kremlin is bringing a new weapon to the fight against the Islamic State militant group in Syria, using market-based incentives tied to oil and mining rights to reward private security contractors who secure territory from the extremists, Russian news outlets have reported.
So far, two Russian companies are known to have received contracts under the new policy, according to the reports: Evro Polis, which is set to receive profits from oil and gas wells it seizes from the Islamic State using contract soldiers, and Stroytransgaz, which signed a phosphate-mining deal for a site that was under militant control at the time.
The agreements, made with the Syrian government, are seen as incentives for companies affiliated with Russian security contractors, who reportedly employ about 2,500 soldiers in the country, to push the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, out of territory near Palmyra, in central Syria.
Most Middle Eastern wars are suspected of having some variant of this deal, but it is seldom made as explicit as in the Russian contracts.
“It’s all very simple,” Ivan P. Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trends Studies, said by telephone of the deals, struck in December but just recently reported. “If a company provides security, then the country getting that service should pay. It doesn’t matter how the payment is made.”
In the petroleum deal, Evro Polis, a corporation formed last summer, will receive a 25 percent share of oil and natural gas produced on territory it captures from the Islamic State, the news site Fontanka.ru reported.
The website has a record of accurately reporting about private security companies in Russia, and just last month Washington appeared to corroborate one of its earlier reports by imposing sanctions on a Russian whose activities first came to light in the publication.
Fontanka’s latest article on the topic, published last week, detailed how Evro Polis was cooperating with a shadowy Russian private security group called Wagner, which American sanctions suggest has also provided contract soldiers to the war in Ukraine.
The deal is distinct from the common practice of oil majors and other corporations outsourcing security in hot spots in the Middle East and elsewhere. Under the contract, the wells are not just to be guarded, but to be captured first, the article said.

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Syria: Nine Russian Contractors From PMC Wagner Killed

Rest in peace to the fallen…

In my last post on Russian contractors, I mentioned briefly about a PMSC called PMC Wagner or OSM. The Wall Street Journal is the first large media group that I know of that has talked about this company in a story, and I thought I would share that here. I want to keep a record of this stuff so that it can be a reference for how the Russian market is developing in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

So why do I continue to focus on the Russian market? Primarily because if the Russian PMSC’s start delving more into offensive operations, then that could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the industry. I like to follow the offensive aspects of PMSC use because that will have impact on the future of this industry. Meaning as more and more private companies from other countries get into the game of war fighting, and actually winning wars like what Executive Outcomes was able to do, then that would move the marker of what is acceptable and possible within this industry.

It will give countries an option other than using and paying for a standing military, or for countries who lack those kinds of war fighting and winning capabilities within their own military.

One country might view another country’s PMSC industry as a strategic advantage. Something that they want in their tool kit of force. Especially if PMSC’s start winning wars and battles, and especially if a country is flush with cash but lacks manpower. A country that is in a fight for their survival (like Assad’s Syria) will do everything it can to win, and really could care less where that manpower comes from at the end of the day. Enter the PMSC market.

Back to the article below. The quote that caught my attention was this one:

An official close to the Russian Defense Ministry said that the group had numbered around 1,000. Unlike Western security contractors, who are typically armed with only light weapons, members of the group were operating T-90 tanks and howitzers.

Contractors operating T-90 tanks and howitzers? lol That is some serious weaponry and I would love to hear more about what exactly these guys were doing with this stuff. EO used tanks and APC’s in their wars pretty effectively, and it is interesting to hear about private companies actually operating this type of equipment. Imagine that training course? lol

The other interesting quote below is the leader of PMC Wagner/OSM, came from the Slavonic Corps. The Slavonic Corps was also given tanks to use, but that was a big surprise for the contractors involved apparently.  So will PMC Wagner pick up where the Slavonic Corps left off, and do better?  We will see. –Matt

Edit: 12/19/2015- The guy in the photo below was an entertainer that was working at Latakia Air Base at the time and not some soldier or contractor according to my readership. There is a question on how many contractors were killed as well. One of my readers said that an article from Reuters was written last October in regards to this incident and they only mentioned three Russians that were killed. Also, the 1,000 contractor headcount is not realistic according to the readership. That is a pretty big footprint for a contractor force so I would imagine that number is a lot lower.

Edit: 03/10/2016- War is Boring wrote an interesting article that talked more about Russia and it’s use of PMSC’s. This quote on PMC Wagner is what I wanted to put out there for the record:

It now seems the TchVK Wagner is building on the Slavonic Corps’ misfortune. Indeed, many members of this mysterious organization, as well as its leader — a former major in the Spetsnaz and ex-employee of Moran Security — were also members of the luckless 2013 expedition in Syria. According to the journalist Denis Korotkov, author of numerous articles on the TchKV Wagner, these contractors are active in Syria and entertain “close links with the Russian army.”

“TchVK Wagner is not a PMC, but a paramilitary organization with no official status,” Korotkov insists. “It is obvious that this task force could not exist without serious support from high-ranking government officials.”

Oleg Krinitsyn, head of the Russian PMC RSB Group, says he agrees with that assessment.

According to Korotkov, neither Moran Security nor RSB Group are active in eastern Ukraine — and this for legal reasons and in order to preserve their contracts abroad. Furthermore it seems the Russian army in Syria does not make use of these two PMCs. For sure, these companies do employ droves of former FSB agents, and one can easily imagine that they offer piecemeal services to the Russian state while on duty abroad, especially in Africa.

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Up to Nine Russian Contractors Die in Syria, Experts Say
Incident shows how the country is using private groups to avoid deploying uniform troops, they say
By THOMAS GROVE
Dec. 18, 2015
As many as nine Russian contractors died in October when a mortar round hit their base in western Syria, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The incident, experts say, shows how Russia has used contractors to perform quasi-military tasks, avoiding the political repercussions of deploying uniformed troops—and steering clear of the domestic concerns that come with the deaths of soldiers.
The Russian government hasn’t acknowledged the deaths, described to The Wall Street Journal by three people.
“It’s one of Russia’s first attempts at trying to create a private military company like what was Blackwater,” said one of them, Ivan Konovalov, director of a Moscow-based security think tank and a consultant to lawmakers who are trying to create the legal basis for such military companies, which now fall in a legal gray zone.
Blackwater, which provided armed security, logistics and other support to U.S. government agencies, became emblematic of Washington’s reliance on private-sector firms to advance foreign-policy aims in conflict zones.
Unlike Blackwater, though, the Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t publicly acknowledged their existence. It isn’t clear whether the men’s role went beyond protecting government installations to direct involvement in fighting.
Founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, Blackwater was involved in a series of controversial incidents, including a deadly 2007 shootout in Iraq that ultimately led to its reorganization and rebranding as Academi and to Mr. Prince’s exit from the business. Blackwater said it was carrying out dangerous work on behalf the U.S. government in a way that was more cost-effective than using uniformed personnel. Four former guards were convicted after the shooting, but said they shot in self defense.
The Russians killed in Syria belonged to a private group called OSM, according to Denis Korotkov, a former security adviser and journalist. The group is known informally as Wagner, after the nom de guerre of its leader, a former military intelligence officer who has served in several conflicts since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Syria wasn’t the group’s first deployment. According to all three people, the group operated in eastern Ukraine, where its members were charged with protecting factories and pro-Russian rebel leaders.
In Ukraine, the Kremlin employed “hybrid warfare”—a term national-security experts use to describe the use of irregular forces, propaganda campaigns, economic coercion and sometimes direct military action.
Groups with connections to Russian military and intelligence, and whose activities can be denied, have operated in the conflict zones that flared up since the fall of the Soviet Union. Wagner’s group however has emerged as one of the most prominent both in terms of the size and missions, according to Mr. Konovalov.
Based in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar, the group deployed to Syria after a contract was drawn up with Syrian authorities, Mr. Konovalov said.

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